GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Beyond Money & Diplomacy: Regional Policies of Saudi Arabia and UAE after the Arab Spring
Paper Proposal Text :
Beyond Money & Diplomacy: Regional Policies of Saudi Arabia and UAE after the Arab Spring

Eman Ragab
Senior Researcher, Al-Ahram Center for Political
and Strategic Studies

The post Arab Spring context creates a window of opportunity for Saudi Arabia and UAE to re-position themselves in the region as leading countries capable of not only using money and diplomacy but also the military means in pursuing their regional policies . Saudi Arabia, the old player in the region, is becoming less reluctant in using its army in pursuing its regional interests instead of only relying on the old pattern of interventionist policies that is based on financial and economic aid. In the case of UAE, it decided to act beyond the equation of aid and quiet diplomacy through sending its national army to Bahrain in 2011 along with Saudi forces, as well as taking part in the military operations against Qaddafi in Libya in 2011. Also the UAE and Saudi Arabia took part in the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria since 2014, and intervened militarily in Yemen in 2015.
In other words, Saudi Arabia and UAE five years after the Arab Spring are not only concerned about avoiding the wave of changes carried out by the Spring via subsidies or repression, but also more concerned about pursuing an active interventionist foreign policies in some Arab countries going through violent changes using not only economic aid and diplomacy but also the military means .
Yet, the two countries are using the military instruments in pursuing their policies as part of a multilateral framework. For instance, both sent their troops to Bahrain 2011 as part of al-Jazeera shield forces, and in the case of Yemen , Saudi Arabia created the Arab Alliance inorder to legitimize the intervention, and it was supported by UAE and other Arab countries. In other words, unilateral military intervention is not yet a common foreign policy for neither Saudi Arabia or UAE.
The main argument of this paper is that the growing militarization of Saudi and Emeriti regional policies is transitional and motivated by the changes triggered by the Arab Spring. In light of that, the first section of the paper attempts to identify the internal and external drivers of the Saudi and Emeriti\' increasing reliance on military intervention in neighboring countries going through violent changes. It also analyzes the aspects of this development in the Emeriti and Saudi foreign policies through examining their roles in Bahrain 2011, and in Yemen 2015 and what does it mean for their strategic prestige in the region. In the last section, the paper examines three main issues that would undermine the continuity of this pattern in Saudi and Emeriti regional policies, that include their military capabilities, the stability of the ruling elites, and the legitimacy of their policies as perceived by other regional powers.